Sharpie Art Workshop

Even the most digital-oriented among us can’t deny the simple pleasure of drawing or writing with a Sharpie marker—available in more than 30 colors and five tip widths, and usable on just about any surface that can hold ink, Sharpies have earned their place as a go-to medium for creatives of all types.

In his new book Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World (which will be released in July 2015), designer and art director Timothy Goodman demonstrates how to use Sharpie tools to achieve a wide range of creative techniques and effects. The book, which Timothy co-designed with Dan Blackman, also includes inspiring Sharpie artwork by amazing artists from around the world. We asked Timothy to tell us about his new book.

Create: What was the genesis of Sharpie Art Workshop?

Timothy: I’ve had a relationship with Sharpie for a couple years now. They featured me on their blog, and they would send me paint markers when I’d work on mural. Because I’ve done such an array of work with Sharpie, I’ve always rattled around the idea of making a book highlighting all my different ideas and the techniques that are possible with one. The perfect opportunity came up with Rockport last year, just as we were finishing the 40 Days of Dating book. 

Create: What makes Sharpie markers so appealing? Why do they inspire you?

Timothy: Five years ago I made a decision to get my hand in my work more, and it all started when I had the opportunity to do a mural for the Ace Hotel in New York. I basically locked myself in this hotel room for three days with a Sharpie Paint Marker. Since then, I’ve adopted a whimsical hand-lettering and drawing style that I now do for a variety of clients—such as an installation in Airbnb’s headquarters, drawing all over a new Ford car, and art for Starbucks. I also use Sharpie for the personal stuff I do, like my 2Pac mural in Las Vegas and my Instagram writing series Memories of a Girl I Never KnewIt’s really become an extension of me and my work, so this book only made sense for me to author.

Create: What might artists unfamiliar with the medium be surprised by when it comes to working with Sharpies?

Timothy: What’s so surprising to me, when I really think about it, is how much Sharpie is a part of all our lives. Sharpie is kind of the “everyman” marker: kids use them to draw pictures, athletes use them to sign autographs, artists use them in their work, some people might use them to touch up a scratch on their piano, my mom uses them to write a grocery list—I literally heard Big Sean reference Sharpie in one of his songs recently.

Create: Do you have a favorite project, idea, or technique in the book?

Timothy: The book highlights a lot of different Sharpie ideas and techniques, from making handmade gifts to creating murals to repurposing and drawing on old objects to simply doodling in your notebook. My personal favorite, however, is drawing on mini canvas frames. It’s something I’ve been doing for years. You can buy these at most art stores, and they are a simple and great gift to give to friends. I’m always surprised and delighted to see how much a little handmade gift like this can be such a great way to make a friend or a loved one smile. 

Create: Do you have a Sharpie art hero?

Timothy: All the insanely talented contributors in the book! The book features some amazing artists from around the world—Julia Rothman, Shantell Martin, Jessica Walsh, Debbie Millman, Gemma O’Brien, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Mireia Ruiz, Jen Mussari, Carolyn Sewell, Erik Marinovich, Mikey Burton, and more. I’m extremely lucky to be in their company, and even luckier to call some of them friends. 

I also made it a conscious decision to highlight more women than men, for a couple of reasons: I’m currently more inspired by the work and risk-taking by the women in my profession from all around the world—and for far too long, without much regard, extremely talented women have been overshadowed by industry conferences, awards, and blogs. 

Create: It’s always great to catch up with you, and we look forward to checking out the book! What else is going on with you these days?

Timothy: Jessica Walsh and I are wrapping up another very robust experiment that uses our personal lives as a catalyst to tell a story. It’s documented in a similar way to 40 Days via writing, illustration, photography, and video, and we’ll release it in segments. In fact, we’ve partnered with Bas Berkhout who makes the wonderful Like Knows Like documentary series. Look for it in August!

July 2, 2015

Images: courtesy of Timothy Goodman